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We Are The Foundation: Reflections on Black Culture's Impact On Music

By Miranda Rae for Boston Compass (#126)

August 18, 2020

Black people have defined the sound of music through many generations. From hymns in a field that were sung by enslaved Africans to modern-day young Black men rapping in the Bronx, music is Black history. We have been inspired by different genres and created new sub-genres. Blues to rock-n-roll, house to hip-hop, Black people are the foundation of the music we love today.

As an R&B singer, it brings me joy to witness the creative soul within Black artists. Whether it's dance, art, or music, Black culture should be glorified more. The seeds we planted throughout our time here on earth will last for generations to come. We have so many Godfathers and Mothers of music to thank for that foundation. For example, James Brown is the most sampled artist of all time. His legacy is one of the reasons for the sound of hip-hop today.

The struggles our musical ancestors had to endure should be an inspiration alone. Creating songs that end up banned or stolen and recreated never stopped us from getting to the top. In 1971 Marvin Gaye released his album, “What’s Going On,” as a way to shed a light on what’s going on in the world through music. We have always used music to voice our freedom. Those who take the time to really listen to the message will understand music is a vehicle to spread peace in the world.

It hurts me to know that the Negro Spirituals sung by our ancestors and the music we hear written by artists like H.E.R, Wale, and Anderson. Paak all have the same theme: equality. This proves the Black artist community is still fighting the fight our ancestors fought for us. I hope one day to find the words to bring my feelings on injustice to life. I'm still defining what my mark in music will be, but I hope my words and melodies will inspire the youth that come after.

—Miranda Rae, @mirandarae_music


Check out all the art and columns from August's Boston Compass at


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